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Publisher Tony Kane and his wife host a party in honor of best-selling author Amos Cottle at their Connecticut home. But all eyes are on the guests when an unseen hand slips cyanide into Cottle’s drink.

Also present at the party is Basil Willing, a psychiatrist-sleuth who soon figures out that Cottle was not the man that his jacket-flap blurb said he was. Willing embarks on a course of literary detection, scouting for clues in book reviews, publisher correspondence, and other documents related to this rather ghostly writer …